5 more dogs test positive for canine influenza in Canada

Five dogs in Canada that came into contact with two others with H3N2 canine influenza have also tested positive.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in southwestern Ontario said the five dogs — and others that may have been exposed — have been quarantined by their owners to help prevent further spread of the virus.

The contagious flu has spread rapidly across Asia and parts of the U.S.

The health unit said this flu is highly contagious between dogs, particularly in Canada, where the animals do not have natural immunity from previous infection and  canine influenza vaccination is rare.

The health unit said there is no known human risk, but officials are worried that a dog infected with H3N2 could also contract a human flu, and those strains could combine to create a new virus.

“It’s pretty unlikely to happen, but that’s the main public health concern,” Scott Weese, a professor and infectious disease specialist at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, told CBC News when the first outbreak was reported.

Distinguishing the canine flu is difficult in dogs, said Weese, because the symptoms are similar to other respiratory infections like kennel cough.

“It’s a flu-like illness. It gives them fever, they feel pretty run down, they get a cough which is often the most remarkable sign. In most dogs that’s it. It runs its course,” said Weese. 

But like the flu, it could cause complications for older dogs or canines with existing health problems. 

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CBC | Health News